Hey, you read the header and thought "$600,000 to play golf. In Sullivan County?". Nope, we’re not there yet. Not even close. But in today’s NY Times’ Sunday Style section, the front page article was about the Bridge, a new golf club for the unstuffy new-money set in the Hamptons, where the membership buy-in is $600,000. That’s not for real estate — a house or even just a vacant lot. That’s just to join the golf club!
Wow, here in Sullivan County, at that price you get a house with that Big Mac and Fries, and a pretty darn good one, usually with a bunch of acres and a view and pond thrown in. (Sorry, for a great lakefront house, you’ll have to SuperSize that budget a little.)
As much as we pat ourselves on the back as being the ‘New Hamptons’, we’re just not in the same league. We just don’t have hordes of the uber-wealthy throwing obscene amounts of money at real estate. $600,000 puts you in the upper echelon of buyers here, and $1M practically gives you the keys to the kingdom.
A lot of my clients are upper end buyers, at least by Catskills standards. An interesting trend I’ve noticed over the last couple of years is the number of younger, well off city professionals who are gravitating to the Catskills because they can buy an eye-popping trophy property here for what a modest getaway would cost in the Hamptons or Fire Island. They aren’t the kings (and queens) of business and industry pulling down a hundred mil a year (for whom a membership at the Bridge is a fashion accessory), but well-paid mid-level ladder climbers who may well be the future royalty of business.
Many of this new crop of second homers here in Sullivan County are just one or two degrees of separation away from the real movers and shakers. One thing that many ‘newcomers’ often comment on here is how open and accessible socializing is here, with not a shred of snooty pretension. A very intriguing phenomenon here is the networks among these folks that are evolving, and what those informal connections may lead to in 10 or 20 years.
We don’t have a private golf club you can join for $600,000. Heck, we don’t really have a private club you can join at all. (All of Sullivan County’s golf courses — and there are some really good ones — are open to the public.) The big question is whether the well off young turks who revel in the quaint and charming openness of Sullivan County will choose to close themselves off in gated and private enclaves and clubs when they reach the next rung.
I really don’t think so. The new, younger energy coming in to Sullivan County is egalitarian and refreshingly ‘anti-Hamptons’. There’s just a different feeling here, a kind of harking back to a kinder, simpler time … sort of that aw shucks, Warren Buffet thing — he may be one of the richest men in the world, but still lives in Omaha, in a modest house, and waits his turn at the same barber he’s gone to for decades.
Just like we all stand in line for a Sunday pancake breakfast at the Jeffersonville Firehouse. Every child (and the child in all of us), rich or poor, celebrity or not, gets the same delight from seeing a deer with her two baby fawns crossing the road. And that’s kind of what we’re all about here in Sullivan County.